Today's economy

What’s really wrong with Canada’s job market?

By Kevin Press,

Comments (40)

Behind the headline that is our national unemployment rate — 7.1% at last count, according to Statistics Canada — is a remarkable story about something called job quality. To understand the labour market, it is necessary to measure more than just how many people are working. We need to look at what those jobs pay, whether they’re full- or part-time roles and who is writing the paycheques. A report published by CIBC World Markets on Monday says that on those measures, the country is moving sideways at best.

What’s really wrong with Canada’s job market?The CIBC Employment Quality Index is down more than 14% from the high it reached in the late 1980s, according to the report. Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with the firm, writes that “lower-quality employment means that, on average, we have to generate more jobs to maintain the same pace of income growth.”

Each of the index’s three components has contributed to the downturn. Since the late 1980s, job growth among part-time workers has outpaced growth among full-time workers; job growth in the self-employed category has beaten growth among paid employees; and employment growth in jobs that pay low- to mid-level salaries is eight times that of high-paying jobs.

“It has major implications,” Tal told me in an interview on Monday. “A low quality level means that you need more and more jobs to generate the same level of income … Quality is associated with productivity. This can impact standard of living.”

In the late 1980s, a 1% rise in the employment rate translated into a 4.4% spike in real labour income. Today, the same jump in the employment rate would produce less than 3.3% in added income.

What’s happening? Is this another example of conservative decision-making by business owners? Not at all.

“Companies are looking for people,” Tal said. “They simply cannot find them. We have an army of unemployed people. They can’t find jobs because they don’t have the skill set that is needed. This skills mismatch is a major issue that is limiting the ability of the economy to expand, limiting increases in productivity and resulting in a decline in our quality index.”

Job quality is depressed across much of the country. Only Alberta and Saskatchewan have seen their situations improve. Tal told me that Canada isn’t alone in this, either, which only makes it harder for Canadian employers to find the workers they need.

“We are competing with other countries like Australia, the U.S. and with some parts of Europe,” he said. “We’re seeing more and more companies trying to go and get people from the outside, but it’s not easy.”

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Justin Merced on

Jobs in Canada can be very tough for some sectors. We are having a big boom in the home renovation sector.

AL on

The real problem is we Canadians will allow Governments and multinational Corporations to walk all over our rights as we relive the 1920,s allover again history repeat it self . We have given up our rights with out a fight ,our Forefathers are rolling in their graves after spilling blood to gain the rights to a fair paying job.

Madge on

The worst thing our government did recently is cut the amount of apprentices from 4 down to one for each journeyman, at a time when we need trades people to replace retiring workers, while our youth are shunned out of meaningful jobs and living on welfare, what is wrong with this picture?
By the way, the person who said wait times are down at ER’s hasn’t been to any of the hospitals in my area, my co-worker went by ambulance to hospital, and was told to sit there, he waited almost 4 hours then went home without seeing a doctor, I won’t even try to get into the ER here, someone died waiting in our local ER waiting room.
I am down almost $8000.00 from last year in income, that hurts a lot, when the price of everything is going up.

    barry on

    Reminds of of MMAs owner saying having one person running a train is safer then two (because of logic he invented)

frank on

The job market has become like all the other markets: stock market,housing market,… They are weath-transfer transfer all money from the little people to the top 1%, everything is one big scam now,look into homesteading,it might be our only hope.

Chris Laurin on

I just turned 60 with 35 years steady work and now no job for 2 years ! I blame the people in mgmt that allow 20 something women (95% of HR are women who hire women first ) based on a TWO year college DIPLOMA.
Within 2 years they go from flipping burgs to deciding our futures.
They are extremely AGEIST and are total age bigots as well. I had a great shot at a job and the 20 something actually wrote to say (and i may go to human rights) “we decided to hire someone younger.” They lasted less than a month and the turn over there is very high for no other reason than the HR girl who should be fired for negatively affecting profits..

    raymeus on

    yeah go after them Chris , its called discrimination based on age. But its going on like crazy . Like i told one company at my interview ( after i knew i wasnt going to get job, because you just know) Good luck finding someone younger who has the work ethic , experience , transferable work skills , knows how to think ahead , gets their head in the game , and most of all shows up for work . Its like the Edmonton Oilers , oh they got all the young talent on their team but they need more of the mature , gutsy , fearless , knows what it takes to get on top and then stay there, kind of players . Look at them lose game after game , its the same with these companies , they are just going to go down hill and lose business and close doors because they dont hire a mixture of people.

Bobby on

Conservative government gave temporary work permits to over 400,000 foreign workers, while we wait in welfare queues. (Canadian unemployment rate is over 7%)

    Elizabeth Medynski on

    How about on the job training? Instead of bringing people in from all over the world

damned if do on

I was working for a global electrical engineering firm for almost a decade, just short a few years to retirement, and I was ‘downsized’ due to restructuring a few months ago. The job market has changed exponentially and not necessarily for the better. Wages offered for ‘similar work’ are excessively low (i.e. approx. 1988 wages) and employers are reluctant to offer the benefits (extended healthcare, ADD, insurance, etc.). Am told there are min. 3 people now doing my job, meanwhile, I’m unemployed and the job market is tough. Stats are not always what ‘they say’ they are….to attain a job in similar $ market is virtually non-existent. “take it or leave it’ wages .

    raymeus101 on

    At least you probably received a severance , mine was wcb and ei . The new owners said …well at least you have WCB and EI . Guess that eases the conscience . But you said you were close to retirement , like 10 years? Yes big shock , so much has changed . Guys like me mid 50s are being pushed or thrown out the door ( non-union) Now we are supposed to try and get a job? My job requirements now are a driver abstract. Gee guess whats on that ? My birthdate. Companies seem really keen on hiring me and then they ask for abstract and never hear from them again.

Mel on

I’ve spent a lot of my life searching for jobs. Better ones or ones without abusive employers. The big problem in Canada is with corporate employers wanting so many years of experience yet they will only pay a dollar or two above minimum wage. It;s just not feasible anymore to spend $80,000 on an education, and be expected to be paid $12 an hour, unless you stil live at home with mommy and daddy. I’ve also applied for jobs and been told that they decided to farm the work out to India. It’s frightening what is happening, soon the streets will be filled with homeless, there will be no where safe to live without worrying about break-ins. All I can do at this point is look after me and stop buying stuff that I don’t really need.

Raissa on

Since we’re lacking the proper talent pool for what our country needs to grow, we should have a communication plan set in place to inform young adults of what industries require bodies, and therefore they can make a choice if they want to pursue that career path or a different one. I remember finishing high school over 12 years ago and taking a year off school to work because I had no idea what I should take in university, as I had no idea what types of jobs were available at the time. If I knew what industries were looking for people, I really would have taken those industries into consideration when choosing a career path.

    barry on

    Proper talent pool means people who graduate without 10 years experience (okay 5 in some industries) and companies who don’t want to train and want to pay well below market wages. In many “high demand” fields there are unemployed graduates who employers wont touch with a 10 foot pole, (i am an engineer, a “demand” industry). I have come to believe that employers believe that market wages and actually hiring employees should be suspended in a recession, i have seen the same jobs advertised several times and i apply over and over again never to be interviewed and apparently they never seem to hire anyone

Barry on

Employers want to pay less then market wage, expect people to do the work of 3 employees and magically have the skills they invented and aren’t used elsewhere, and bonus if they can pay you less each year.
The government encourages this and gives corporate welfare, then wonders way this is happening. Then the public votes in the same government over and over again.



Support the GREEN PARTY …. Save the world and give YOUTH A CHANCE ….

Reduce the Human over population by 99 % ( Humans pollute – Fewer humans = less pollution )
Compulsory Retirement for all at age 40 ( Open up the blocked Job Market )
Compulsory Euthanasia for all at age 50 ( Cut down ‘ Health Care ‘ costs that are bankrupting Canada )

peter on

The trucking industry is the one perfect example of what’s wrong. You work 24/7 7 days a week with no life, risk your life as its dangerous as hell, for low pay. In the 70s you could make 90,000 a year (next to no government BS) and buy a house for 60,000.Today the same house is 800,000 and my last pay driving I cleared a little over $800 for two weeks work (I can make that at McDonald’s). These same companies cry about shortages and cant get skilled drivers. I get calls all the time to come back, I laugh at them.

Oracle on

Oracle you nailed it !, the 50 plus age group is being cleared out by the new younger managers and replaced by cheaper foreign workers who do not have a clue with regard to Canadian engineering standards.
The problem then becomes the constant reworking of designs and processes which then pushes the project over budget and the project time lines are way out of whack.
They are creating one huge mess all for what to save a few dollars per/hour.
The net effect on the rest of the economy will be disastrous, less money in workers pockets means less spending in the wider economy, eg sales slump.

Oracle on

A lot of comments have already nailed the big issue, managers are driven by bonuses just like the financial services industry it will cause havoc to the Canadian economy. They want more for less and one way of achieving that is to sack the Canadian homegrown workers and then bring in foreigners from overseas. Generally its via an employment agency on a contract that is a much lower rate and also has no benefits. They then expect them to work 50 hrs per/week have no holidays and work so hard they fall a sleep going home and cause road accidents.
Canada is going to be a low wage economy with a wide extreme in incomes, you will have the extremely rich and the extremely poor just barely making ends meet.
The middle income groups will disappear and then Canada is in trouble big time.

jess cloud on

this is why we have companies out there ex: 5spot

raymeus on

I hitched my cart to a company 11 years ago , worked my butt off , every year got an increase untill 2012 . So i was making 24.00 p/hr , got injured and went off on WCB . Well i was off they sold the company , new owners didnt like my age or wage so they laid me off. WCB said nothing they could do as company was sold. Govt paid for me to get a Class 1 for truck driving. Now iam looking for work but everywhere i go they see iam older , 54 years , and that i have no experience driving big trucks except my training of 60 hours to get my class 1 through a driving school. I never thought i would be in this position at my age , especially working and sacrificing so much to the same company for 10 years . I was loyal to them but when profits dropped and they wanted to move on they just cast me aside like garbage . OH yeah truckers are in demand but they all want 2 years experience before they will hire you , so how do you get that when they wont hire you? What a big joke

    Oracle on

    its happening everywhere the 50+ age group are being cleared out because they are the ones closer to retirement age and most private companies have huge pension liabilities in their private pension plans.
    I stopped contributing to company private pensions in 1998 after my brother lost all of his pension money when the company went bankrupt. That was all his contributions from the age of 21 up to 58 years he was in tears, I vowed never ever again to have a private pension its one big scam. Companies are bought and sold for the cash in the pension pot, it then gets raided and emptied and then sold on again, leaving you with nothing !
    Its perfectly legal this scam, they clear the guys out, wind up the old company name eg legal entity send it into bankruptcy and then start trading under a new name something very close to the old name for marketing reasons.

    EQ8Rhomes on

    Raymeus: Excellent point. Now you know what immigrants go through on arriving here. “Do you have Candians experience? No, I just landed yesterday! But I have worked in this field for 11 yrs! Sorry!
    There are closed union shops and professions to keep newcomers (anyone) out. The Americans are better. They will pay for skills and education regardless and they recruit from all over the world. We, in Canada, tend to be very INSULAR.

bolton on

There is no future in canada, wages are so low it can hardly pay rent or mortgage on of that there is no jobs. Canada is poor house can’t provide jobs for young and hopeful what a shame it hard to hide.

    joy161616 on

    True. Canada boast of most beautiful and living place on the earth but with no guarantee for jobs.

Kate on

What employers actually mean when they say they “can’t find qualified Canadian employees” is that they can’t find employees who have 20 years experience in the EXACT job that they are posting, in the exact same industry/location/size of company/type of company etc, who will already know all that company’s specific processes and tribal knowledge, and essentially are fully trained and productive the moment they are hired. They expect new hires to figure everything out without any “onboarding”, with no support, no training. They expect all this and they will only hire on contract, with no benefits, at a lower wage than the job is worth, and expect that you’ll work 50 or 60 hours a week at least for the privilege of having a job, and you’ll deliver the same output that it used to take three full-time people to generate. They’ll dangle full-time “permanent” employment under your nose to keep you running flat out and then just renew your contract for another 6 months or decline to renew your contract because they found someone even cheaper and younger who will work for almost nothing.
The reason so many people are self-employed is because they know they are the only employer who will truly value their skills.

    pwwalker on

    It isn’t just that, though. It’s a widespread mentality in our society that someone else should pay for everything. Citizens expect corporations to pay for everything; corporations expect the citizenry to pay for everything (guess who’s winning that battle?). In the case of employment, employers really do want to have someone else pay for their lunch, as can be attested by Harper’s jobs training program whereby 2/3 of the cost is borne by, you guessed it, the taxpaying citizen. Now, what used to be considered business incentives are now business expectations. They don’t do anything unless government gives them money and/or concessions, and in that regard, people should stop viewing the CEO as an adult. We should begin to describe them as what they are: spoiled children who throw tantrums and make threats when they don’t get their way.

    EQ8Rhomes on

    @Kate: Right On! Companies re-jigged “down-sizing” to “right-sizing” and yes, hired one to do work three used to do. When computers came, secretaries were laid off and we teachers had to:
    1. Buy our own computers
    2.Use our own electricity
    3.Use our own paper and ink/cartriges and printers
    4. And do it in our own private time! If we used it AT ALL, during group- work time to use computer, the Principal got a report from a parent!
    Then came a smart-aleck “Human Resources jerk” and wrote to all 50+ teachers and even one (Counsellor) at 49, “suggesting” early retirement.
    I noticed that admin were all over 50++, but they didn’t have to abide. I said so, but ….!

    Quamrul Islam on

    Almost absolutely true picture projected by you; I am lot flabbergasted who actually prepare all these so-called timed out survey or research devoid of data or info on existing scenario.

    With MBA, Corporate Management Training in Japan, 20+ years end-to-end Supply Chain & Logistics experience that took business travel to 45 countries and actively involved in implementing-commissioning-operating over two dozens manufacturing industries like Dairy-Food-Beverage-Steel-Paper-Textile-Chemical-Plastice-furniture etc n leading from 30 to 2000 people, handling borrowing / financing from global sources, being a multli-lingual [ 6 languages ] etc and so on and even after taking Full-Time one year Diploma in Supply Chain & Logistics Management [scoring 90% in exams] I could not land an Interview let alone any job in Toronto; I applied n am applying to all over Canada, easily made over 1000 applications !!

    Should I be dismayed, disappointed, disgusted or not !!!

chris on

I’m an Australian engineer with great skills and would love to get a job in Canada to further my learning and teach Canadians a thing or two. Unfortunately your labour laws which were actioned at the end of April 2013 stipulate that there will be a minimum 12 week application period for expats to obtain a working visa with sponsorship from a Canadian company. Pretty rediculous for the expats, especially when our job market in Australia is slow at the moment. It doesn’t sound like they are having the positive desired effect on the Canadian job market as predicted.

Penny Saver on

Its not a “skills” shortage in MOST of the country, its a shortage of people willing to work for an employer who is looking for someone to do the “3 jobs rolled into one” that they expect now and for a wage barely allows you to live “week to week”. Up the wages to (at miniumum) a living wage, toss in some benefits, and expect people to work “only” a 40 hour work week and I guarantee they will no longer have a hard time finding qualified Canadians with the skills needed to fill their job. Companies want to claim a skills shortage, which would then allow them to find someone overseas for even less of a wage. The smart pubic is fully aware of this. Companies also no longer do any “on the job” training, they expect candidates, to come to their first day and hit the ground running, a ridiculous expectation in my opinion, for anyone starting a new job.

desiboy2 on

Canada is a frozen wasteland filled with uneducated rednecks who don’t have any skills. That’s why it is a poverty ridden country.

    Hparmar on

    Canada and I mean Alberta is a great place to live… employment and salaries are high… and taxes and regulations and laws are low… although stupid politicians are trying to find new ways to take our freedoms and money, I will fight hard against them as well as other Albertans, we will not let you turn Alberta into into Quebec or BC or Ontario…

    Clary on

    Poverty ridden country? I think you better look at your own country. You sound like a typical repub.

    The average salary here is far higher than the USA, not to mention, our employment rates are far, far better. Not to mention free healthcare, all from the small amounts of tax I pay weekly. ~30% income tax is far more than reasonable for all of the services available to my family, from sporting opportunities for all children. Education that is second to none for all children, the ability for every child to get a secondary education, often at extremely reduced rates due to scholarships, so that they aren’t choked with student loans after finishing school.

    I have had a Masters in Mechanical Engineering, and I could quit my job today, and have 4 job offers tomorrow.

      Adam on

      Clary ,

      Its seems that you have no idea on whats going on. I am a Canadian but I won’t fool my self. Wages in Canada are not higher than that US, not even close.

      And what you call free healthcare ain’t free. We pay taxes all year round in all directions and don’t be too proud of our healthcare system. It is rotten, when was the last time you have been to a hospital? My 1 year old baby had a fever last month and i had to wait for 7 hours in ER. Wake up buddy!

      Look at European healthcare systems.

      JimmyCanuck on

      Adam, I have no idea where you live, but no one in Oakville, ON waits seven hours for anything medical. Wages here in Canada are higher! Teachers, pilots, minimum wage, you name it….our standard of living in Canada is higher than in the US. That redneck above who thinks we are a frozen wasteland, well, he/she is just another ugly American. We had our first snow fall on Christmas Eve while 90% of the US was under snow. Uneductated! Come on, our universities are as good as any country’s. I moved to Canada from Cleveland 15 years ago and I would not trade the great life and civility for the gun violence and crap education in the US for anything.

kevin on

Companies should do more training of Canadians if they can’t find the skills they need in the open market.

    Nanda Sologar on

    Employers are too dependent on ready trained workers, e.g. foreign workers and immigrants. Historically, they trained their own, but now, they don’t want to spend the money and time to train workers because they fear the trained ones will be poached by others. Incentives and other humane measures can help, if only employers took a cooperative approach to training. Everybody seems to be too much in a hurry to “get rich quick”.

      Rick on

      Canada has become a country of Corporate Free Loaders and they are extremely short sighted in their planning practices. Soon history shall draw a curtain on the term Canadiana! Resources merely do not always lead to economic growth & economic prosperity in any economy!

jvcjr on

You get more of what you measure. If recruitment does not involve skill measurement, you cannot expect it to select employees with the skills you need.

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